A Search for Quality
It can be surprisingly challenging to find a high quality hotel in Russian cities at an affordable price. Many of the hotels are located in buildings that were constructed during the Soviet era with communist style architecture. Many have been redecorated, but some have not and can be quite dreary and uncomfortable. The language barrier also presents a challenge for many foreigners. English is not widely spoken so communication can be quite difficult. If you're traveling to touristy destinations, make sure you're not there during a holiday. This can make the already difficult task of finding accommodation even more challenging. Most reputable hotels fill up on holidays, so if you do find yourself in the area during a peak season, definitely make your reservations well in advance. This will save you a lot of hassle and headache, and ensure you have the best possible vacation.
Think Outside the Box
Accommodation in Russia can be quite expensive. You really have to be creative to save money. It also helps if you can speak the language. Even just a few words can go a long way, or consider traveling with somebody who can speak a little Russian. Another cost saving tip is to consider renting a room from a resident that lives there. Many locals rent out extra rooms and will give you access to their kitchen, or even cook you breakfast while you're their guest. Couchsurfing is also a popular option in Russia. Again, it helps to be able to speak a little bit of Russian if you go with this option. Even if you don't speak Russian, you may be able to find an expat living in the larger cities that will let you "couchsurf." This is a great way to get some insider's tips while you're in the country.
There are some creative options for accommodations while you're in Russia. As previously mentioned, a fun alternative to a hotel is to stay in a local's home. These rooms are typically rented out for a reasonable price and can often be cheaper than hotels of comparable quality. Alternatively, an option that is growing in popularity is to rent an entire apartment. There are sometimes apartments available for rent in a building that houses locals. These apartments come equipped with bathrooms, kitchens, cooking supplies and bed linens. They are also comparable in price to hotels of the same quality. The idea of a "mini hotel" is growing in popularity as well. These hotels exist in already occupied buildings and convert a few units into small hotels where rooms are rented out. These rooms are often more affordable in cost as well.
Because Saint Petersburg is one of the most popular destinations in Russia, it is best to make reservations in advance, particularly if you are traveling during the peak season. Many places do feel up. There are a good number of hostels around the city that are of variable quality. Read some reviews and look at the ratings for the place before you make a reservation. Also make sure you look into the location. You want to be very close to the metro if possible. Saint Petersburg is a large city and you are likely to depend on the metro a decent amount during your time there.
Mid-range hotels are probably the most popular options, and are also the quickest to fill up. There are some great boutique style hotels around the city, but make sure you plan well in advance so you can be sure and stay at the place that most appeals to you. There are also some very grand and impressive places to stay around the city. These will set you back a good amount of money, but if you're looking for luxury, you definitely won't be disappointed.
Language can be somewhat of a challenge during a trip to Russia. If you can stay at a hotel where some of the staff speaks English, this will be helpful with planning. Most of the staff are knowledgeable on the area but the language barrier if they don't speak English can prove quite frustrating.
Moscow also has a good selection of hostels, but again, if you're traveling during the peak season, do try an make reservations a far in advance as possible. Look for a hostel that is newer, clean, and centrally located and you will be much more satisfied with your time in the city. While it may be cheaper to stay further outside the city center, it will ultimately cost you more in time and money. It's worth paying a little more to be in a convenient location.
There is a frustrating shortage of mid-range hotel options in Moscow. If you plan your trip well in advance you may find a great place for a good price, but last minute deals are virtually impossible to come by. Late bookers are likely to find themselves paying significantly more for a hotel, or staying well outside of the city in a location that is far from convenient. If you don't want to bump up to a luxury hotel then plan ahead to find a moderately priced place.
There are some fun luxury options available around the city as well. Look beyond the obvious choices and you're sure to have a unique and grand experience during your time in Moscow.